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The festive season of Navratri has begun and it is the most enchanting festival which has been interpreted from various lenses and by people from varied social locations but it is a festival of celebrating togetherness along with feminine consciousness. Consciousness is the supreme form of rationality which can help us to make peace with ourselves and the world but we have often associated consciousness as a tool of revolution. Our minds are travelling beyond earthly matters to explain the cause of its existence. Every celebration has a philosophical underpinning which we might overlook and misunderstand.
During Navratri, Goddess Durga is worshipped who is considered as the symbolic representation of feminine consciousness. Although, some mythological texts claimed that all Gods including, the Tridevas combined their energies and powers to create her for killing the demon, Mahishasura but in some texts, it was assumed that Durga was created after combining the consciousness of the Tridevis, Goddess Parvati, Laxmi and Saraswati. In other texts, Goddess Parvati is considered as Durga. There is a common focus in all the three understandings of Durga that she is the epitome of higher consciousness derived from self-conscience and introspection of varied situations faced during the lifetime. It is easy to critique culture when the culture itself becomes a fertile ground for discrimination and biases but there are complexities which we need to understand by focusing on ethnography of the culture. Viewing Durga from the lens of feminine consciousness recreates a discourse which respects women’s willpower to fight against difficult situations without seeking help from men.
Women are subjected to discriminatory cultural practices due to their stereotypical feminine roles but Durga is the symbolic representation of embracing differences of being a woman who takes her own decisions.The woman is the culture herself and it is the culture which subverts her. It is paradoxical to state that men are responsible for preserving the cultural essence because if women do not reproduce then there would be no cultural exchange and reducing woman to an object for her reproductive capabilities underestimates her identity of being a woman. Being a woman is different from being socialized as a woman as womanhood should be considered as the power within which could help a woman to actualize the phase of self-evaluation by realizing her self-worth.
It is quite interesting to observe the double- standards of the male-dominated society. On the one hand, they might worship Durga but on the other hand, after going back to their homes, they are beating up their wives and torturing them to death for dowry. Still, women don’t speak up because they are afraid of the consequences. Therefore, women also need an agency like Goddess Durga to fight evils. Most women tend to normalize the violence undertaken by their husbands and in-laws in the name of honour and love. They feel that their husbands have the right to beat them up as they love them and financially support them and their needs. But, a woman’s desire is never taken into consideration. Here, Durga fights with the demon through the process of consciousness-raising which women lack. Consciousness can only be formed if women have the time to interpret their own situation vis-a-vis their present situation in the society but women don’t get enough time to spend with themselves to understand what they want. Therefore, women must focus on having their own room to jot down their thoughts without worrying about their family matters. But, is it really possible to separate public and private domains for a woman?
We need to find the Durga within ourselves to awaken our consciousness to fight against social evils and there is also a need to understand our thought process to shape our lives by making our decisions to deconstruct the social order which lead to the subjugation of women.
Image via Pixabay
I pursued my post graduation in Women's Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences,
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